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Dubai musician’s debut album reflects on break-ups and moving ahead

Michael Gomes
Filed on November 5, 2017
Dubai musicianís debut album reflects on break-ups and moving ahead

For a musician who gave up learning music because he didn't conform to the idea of being forced to learn something, he has done exceptionally well. Dubai-schooled and bred singer and songwriter Sandeep Savio Sequeira has just released his debut solo album titled Palayan (meaning escape in Sanskrit).

Best known for his work with the Dubai-based indie rock quartet Physical Graffiti, Sandeep was a guitarist with the band. In Palayan, he chronicles the end of a relationship and moving ahead after a break-up. Straddling elements of alternative rock, folk, fusion and electro pop, Sandeep had created amazing soundscapes that gives the album a dark, melancholic sound. We chat with the musician to know more.

Tells us a bit about yourself
I was born in Mangalore, India. My parents brought me to Dubai when I was just 2 months old and now, it's been 28 years since I've lived here. I did my schooling at St Mary's School on Oud Metha Road and joined SAE Institute in Dubai to learn audio engineering, from where I got a Bachelor's in Audio Production.

What was the inspiration behind your debut album?
The album starts with the end of my relationship with a girl I was with. From the time she left me - after cheating on me, to me taking her back, and then leaving me again. The songs were written during the dying stages of that relationship.

Your debut album has a deep, dark and melancholic feel, what's the reason you chose that sound?
I've often been told that my music has a dark sound. I guess It happens unintentionally. Almost everything I listen to has a dark and deep vibe. It could be because of my metal roots and the music that I'm listening to. Palayan was released on October 27. But for now, it's only an online release.

Palayan is a Sanskrit word meaning escape. What's the significance of escapism in your album?
I wanted a title that I could connect to. The first thing I asked myself was what does music mean to me. And the answer was escapism† - unconsciously it was a form a escapism. So, I went online and typed 'escape translation in Sanskrit'. That's how I ended up with the title.

Your compositions have an almost synthetic/psychedelic feel, we didnít hear anything organic throughout the album?
Let me explain. When I was a kid, I used to imagine hearing such sounds (synthetic) and thatís what drove me. You can say itís a combination of what I love in music. However, all the songs start out organically with acoustic guitar and everything else is built around that. Sometimes at the end of a song, If I feel the acoustic guitar is taking away the feel of the track, I just mute it. Listen to my song Five, you will know what Iím talking about.

With your band, you performed rock, but Palayan is bereft of rock?
I guess you can say that. I have used samples for percussion and bass in my album and if you replace that with real drums and bass guitar, then the tracks would fit into the rock genre. However, I donít like my music to be placed in a particular genre.

Where did you record the album?
Mostly in my home studio. I recorded all the vocal parts at the SAE Institute. The tabla, flute, violins, turntable scratches and sarangi were recorded in India and the U.S. The mastering was done in UK by Andy 'Hippy' Baldwin at the legendary Metropolis Studios.

When did the music bug bite you?
Actually, I didn't have a great start. My parents sent me to music classes when I was a kid, but I hated it. Though I have a Grade 1 certificate from Trinity College of Music, I don't know music theory. I don't even know how I passed the music exams. I hated going for music lessons. I have never subscribed to the idea of being forced into something being taught by teachers who didn't give a damn whether I was enjoying learning or not. That's what actually drove me away from it. Later, as I grew older, when I heard my schoolmates playing instruments, I got inspired. So, I went to Ultimate Guitar (an online site) and learnt how to play the guitar.

Was it easy to learn music later?
Actually, I'm a good listener. I listen to details in music. Being able to identify instruments and arrangements from a young age helped me learn and make music that I like. My passion for music intensified after I joined the audio institute.

What are some of your early musical influences?
Strangely, it was Hindi songs by Mohd. Rafi, Kishore Kumar and other yesteryears legends. I guess it's because this is all I had access to those days at home. But as I grew older, I got exposed to pop music and then I got attracted to metal. From then on, began my journey of finding music without boundaries - seeking something that doesn't follow trends.

How do you compose music?
It usually starts on the guitar. Whenever something dramatic or stressful happens I pick up the guitar. Once I† start playing, some melodies come up and I hum them. This then starts to shape up like songs as my gibberish turns into words. I then record it on my phone and write the lyrics. The layering, additional melodies and arrangements happen during the recording stage.

For musicians, it's a common practice to follow an album release with a tour. What are your plans?
Since I don't have a band right now to play my songs live, all I can do is to create content to promote the album. In fact, I have shot eight music videos for the album. I also plan on recording some live sessions which will be aired. Later on, once I put a band together, I will go on stage with my music. I would need at least 10 musicians to perform my songs live since the instrumentation and style in each song is complex and different.

Which bands have influenced you most?
I'm influenced by the nu-metal era. And thatís what has inspired my writing too. I also like bands such as Linkin Park, Limp Bizkit, Korn, Deftones, etc. I think they have paved the way for many musicians. When it comes to lyrics, Jonathan Davis of Korn has shown many artistes how to write what they feel Ė artistically and honestly.

What are you working on now?
Iím working on releasing my music videos. I'm also thinking about my next album. I have 40 songs to be re-recorded. I also want to film some live sessions. Perhaps this will give me a chance to put a band together.

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